You Probably Don't Know the Most Important Thing to Do If You Lose Your Child in Public

Have you ever been out with your family and you lose track of one of your kids? If you're like most parents, you'll scan your surroundings, you'll dart from one spot to another trying to find them, and eventually, you'll start shouting their name. Ideally, you locate your kiddo, but if you don't want to risk a far more frightening fate, a mom on TikTok offered up a PSA on the very first thing you should do if your child goes missing in a public place.

"If you look around and your child is no longer with you, what you want to do is you want to start loudly looking for them," Jess Martini, a parent to three boys, who has used this advice successfully in her own life. "Do not start silently looking for them. You want to look loudly."

And she doesn't just mean calling out to them.

"You may feel you look stupid doing it and maybe you do, but it is so much better to look stupid than to be sorry."

"You start shouting their description while you look," she said. "It's going to sound like this: 'I'm looking for a boy, age 5, short brown hair, brown eyes, Caucasian, red Nike t-shirt, black shorts!' You're going to keep repeating yourself while you look over and over again."

At this point, she said, "you've got every single person who is around you looking for your child, instead of just you."

Best-case scenario? Someone finds the child and returns them to you. And the ideal worst-case scenario? If "someone was walking away with your child, they are more likely to let them go because they don't want that sort of commotion."

Although parents might not be going to a lot of crowded public places – like amusement parks, zoos, or shopping centers – amid the pandemic, this tip has already helped families. Another parent, Kelli Hoobler, recently took to TikTok to explain how her middle child had gone missing. While the other adults in her group took off running in one direction and simply shouted his name, she began running in the opposite direction and followed Jess's advice to loudly describe her child. "We found him within 15 seconds."

Jess wants to remind her viewers to not feel ashamed for losing their child in public – and to certainly not let that keep them from practicing this tactic in the moment. "Remember: these things happen to even the best parents," she said. "You may feel you look stupid doing it and maybe you do, but it is so much better to look stupid than to be sorry."